KEY WEST, Fla. – At face value, they're three old planes not worth much more their parts and scrap metal.
Stolen from the Cuban government during a six-month period ending in April 2003 — two by hijackers, one by its pilot — all three landed at Key West International Airport in Florida.
Fidel Castro repeatedly demanded the planes be returned. Instead, they were seized by U.S. courts and auctioned to satisfy part of a $27 million judgment won by a Cuban-American woman.
The story of what happened to the planes in the ensuing years reads like another chapter in the history of stymied, contentious U.S.-Cuba relations, the new owners unable to get the planes anywhere.